Director George Clooney’s moving and deeply melancholy post-apocalyptic sci-fi imagines him as the last man on Earth. The planet has been evacuated and Augustine (Clooney), a scientist with terminal cancer, is alone with his regrets, manning an observatory in the Arctic Circle. When a silent little girl (Caoilinn Springall) turns up, he is prompted to attempt contact with someone in orbit. Briefly, he reaches a spaceship returning from a mission to the habitable planet of K-23. But the signal is weak, and so Augustine and the girl must trek through a radioactive ice storm to a weather station with a better connection.
As in Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, Alexandre Desplat’s score sets a tone of wonder, optimism, and cosmic significance. Set pieces – including a sinking bunker and an astronaut-related injury that sees gravity-defying globules of blood suspended in the air – are thrilling and judiciously spaced. The performances Clooney draws out are even better. Springall is a particular find, expressive even without words, whether playfully pinging peas across the dining table or dragging her duvet and pillow into Augustine’s bedroom.